Nov 8, 2007
FEAR has always been a game of two halves, both heavily involving people being cut into halves. On one side, perhaps excepting Crysis, it's the most cinematically kinetic shooter on the PC; on the other, a story-led atmosphere-fest. It's equal parts Hong Kong gun opera and Japanese horror. This (standalone) expansion pack rarely deviates from the - ahem - mandate, and this is both its strength and its weakness.
When it does deviate, it mostly just lifts tricks from its peers. For example, rather than playing the point-man of the first two parts, you play another FEAR team member in the same area as the original, but with different objectives. This means we spend time in similar locales, getting different perspectives on What We Thought We Knew. Like Half-Life's Opposing Force and Blue Shift, basically.
Other changes - such as new weapons, new enemies and more AI teammate company in parts - are a little predictable. There's certainly some eye-rolling when you play the opening. It's fun, sure, but all a little familiar.
Then you play some more and realise that Perseus Mandate is not just 'fun'. It's FUN. The AI remains excellent; everything explodes. The horror, at its best, is genuinely spooky. And the way people turn to red mist if you hit them right with the shotgun never gets stale. The new additions, while not exactly major, fit the game well: the grenade launcher just gives you more chances to see the game's explosions.
Your closeness to your teammates leads to some oddly moving scenes. Even the more horror-styled monsters work well, with one in particular (we're edging round spoilers) giving you an actual reason to be nervous when approaching the ever-present blood smears.